As July started it seemed all the focus of Yankee fans was on the struggles of Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter. As those players started getting hotter than the weather and with the team in first place, Curtis Granderson stayed under the radar.
After Monday night, it is pretty safe to say Yankee fans are beginning to see the real Curtis Granderson.
It was Granderson’s two-run home run with no outs in the eighth inning off Indians right-hander Jake Westbrook (6-7) that gave the New York Yankees a come-from-behind 3-2 victory over the Cleveland Indians.
It was Granderson’s third home run in two days and he is 18-for-52 (.346) in his last 14 games. That has raised his season batting average from .225 for .249.
Granderson’s 421-foot blast into the right-field bleachers at Progressive Field made a winner out of Javier Vazquez (9-7). Vazquez held the Indians to two runs on five hits and three walks over seven-plus innings of work.
Vazquez was touched for a solo home run by DH Travis Hafner with one out in the second inning and a two-out RBI double Shin-Soo Choo in the sixth inning that gave the Indians a 2-1 lead. But Granderson’s heroics after a leadoff walk to Jorge Posada from Westbrook turned the game around.
Mariano Rivera pitched a scoreless ninth to earn his 21st save in 23 chances.
Alex Rodriguez, who was hit in the left forearm and hand by a pitch in the eighth inning of Sunday’s game against the Royals, started at third base and hit fourth on Monday night to resume his quest for his 600th home run. But he finished the night 0-for-4.
The victory ran the Yankees’ season record to 63-35 and a season-high 28 games over .500. The Yankees also maintained their three-game lead over the second-place Tampa Bay Rays in the American League East.
The Indians’ season record fell to 41-58.
ick Swisher continued his fine season with a solo home run off Wesrbrook in the fourth inning. The home run was Swisher’s 18th of the season and he now has 59 RBIs, which is fourth on the team.
- Granderson’s home run actually followed an at-bat in which he just missed a home run in the fifth inning when his line drive hit the top of the right-field wall. The ball caromed directly to Choo in right-field and Choo made a throw to Jason Donald at second base, where umpire Dale Scott called Granderson out trying to stretch the single into a double. However, replays of the play showed Granderson’s foot hit the base before Donald tagged him.
- Jorge Posada had a good night at the plate. He battled back from an 0-2 count to draw a walk off Westbrook in the fifth inning. He then made it to third base on Granderson’s hit off the wall but the blown call from Dale Scott and a strikeout by Francisco Cervelli left him stranded at third. Posada also singled to left to lead off the eighth inning and scored on Granderson’s home run.
- Protecting a 2-1 lead, manager Joe Girardi went to the bullpen when Javier Vazquez walked Michael Brantley to start the eighth inning. Instead of Joba Chamberlain, Girardi turned to David Robertson to induce a double-play grounder from Asdrubal Cabrera and left-hander Boone Logan to strike out Choo.
- The Yankees made Westbrook look like Roy Halladay for the first seven innings of the game. They only managed two hits and two walks off the veteran right-hander. Derek Jeter, Rodriguez, Robinson Cano, Cervelli and Brett Gardner were a combined 0-for-16 off Westbrook, who started the game with a 4.74 ERA this season and a 5.29 ERA against the Yankees in his career.
- Vazquez pitched exceptionally well and gave the Yankees seven good innings but he made two terrible mistakes that cost him. He left a fastball over the plate to Hafner and Hafner crushed it for his ninth home run of the season. Then he left a 3-2 fastball up in the zone to Choo, who doubled in the tie-breaking run in the sixth inning.
- Mark Teixeira committed a base-running blunder in the fourth inning. After drawing a walk, Teixeira ran to second on a line-drive to left off the bat of Rodriguez that Crowe just barely got his glove under. Instead of running back to first, Teixeira stayed at second to argue the out call only to be tagged out as Crowe threw to Jason Donald at second. The umpires conferred and ruled it a legal catch. Thus Teixeira was out on the double play.
Girardi announced that Dustin Moseley would start for the Yankees on Thursday against the Indians instead of Sergio Mitre. Mitre, who was activated off the disabled list on Saturday to replace Andy Pettitte in the rotation, gave up seven runs in 4 1/3 innings. Moseley came on to replace Mitre in the game and pitched 4 2/3 innings of shutout baseball and only gave up a single and walk over that span. . . . Rodriguez failed to hit his 600th home run at age 34. Rodriguez turns 35 on Tuesday and he has a full year to worry about being the youngest player to hit 600 home runs. Babe Ruth hit his 600th at age 36.
THE NEXT GAME
The Yankees will continue their four-game series with the Indians on Tuesday with former Indians ace CC Sabathia on the mound for them.
Sabathia (13-3, 3.18 ERA) has given up three runs and four walks in both of his outings after the All-Star break. However, Sabathia still has not lost a game since May 23 when the Mets defeated him 6-4. That is 11 straight starts without a loss. Sabathia is 1-0 with a 4.34 ERA against his former team.
Sabathia will be opposed by rookie right-hander Josh Tomlin, who will be making his major-league debut on Tuesday. Tomlin, a 19th-round selection in the Major League First-Year Player Draft in 2006, was 8-4 with a 2.68 ERA in 20 appearances (17 starts) for Triple-A Columbus this season.
Game-time will be 7:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be broadcast locally by MY9.